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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Different Paths

Mike+Christy%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AFootball+vs.+ASU.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Football vs. ASU.

Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore spent three seasons tearing up Pac-10 defensive lines. With Reed’s golden locks and Elmore’s infamous eye black, the two made up one of the most lethal defensive end duos in Arizona football history, combining for 41.5 career sacks.

But more than 10 months since playing their last game as Wildcats, Reed and Elmore couldn’t be in more different situations.

After getting cut by the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 3, Elmore remains in Simi Valley, Calif., waiting for his chance as an NFL linebacker. Reed, on the other hand, will start his first NFL game at outside linebacker for the Houston Texans this Saturday against Ray Rice, Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens.

“I had a bomb dropped on me,” Reed said in a phone interview, referring to starting linebacker Mario Williams tearing his pectoral last weekend against the Raiders. The injury will keep Williams, the former No. 1 overall pick, out for the remainder of the season, opening the door for the Tucson native.

“It’s too bad he got hurt, he was having such a great year already,” Reed said. “He was looking to have a great year but people have got to step up and, in this situation, it’s me. It’s going to be pretty interesting, to say the least.”

Reed has been solid in spot duty through five games, and racked up four total tackles after Williams went down last week. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder will be thrown into the fire with limited NFL experience, filling in for a player with 53 career sacks. But while he awaits his big debut, Reed is enjoying the perks of the NFL.

“Getting paid,” Reed said the best part about the NFL is getting paid. “No homework. It’s all football.”

While Reed’s gotten his feet wet and prepares for his first start, Elmore is simply searching for a roster spot. The Packers drafted Elmore, who led the Pac-10 in sacks in 2009 and 2010, in the sixth round of the 2010 draft.

But after five weeks full of struggles transitioning from defensive end to linebacker, the 6-foot-4, 256-pound Elmore was released.

“The Green Bay experience was good,” Elmore said. “It was a tough transition not only learning a new position but also learning a new defense. Actually all the linebackers had to learn four different positions so it was just a tough transition for someone just to be thrown into it without an offseason to prepare.

“Being around so many great players I learned a lot,” Elmore added. “I feel like it was a really good situation for me for my first year. I just wish I would have been able to stay there because I know they would have been able to help me in my career in the long run.”

Elmore continues to train twice a day in hopes of accomplishing his dream. The NFL is still his “number one priority” but if Elmore doesn’t find any suitors by December, he’ll most likely get a part-time job and return to school to pursue a career in the health industry.

Elmore will probably enroll in only one or two classes so if the NFL becomes an option, he can drop out. But Elmore won’t just wait around like he’s done for the past four weeks. He’s too motivated.

“I’m not going to sit around for three years,” Elmore said. “I’m a motivated person that needs something to do. I’ve been sitting around for about four weeks now so I need to keep moving. I can’t sit in one place for too long because if I do I feel like I’m not progressing in life.”

It remains to be seen if Elmore will get a chance to prove himself, but if the opportunity comes, he’ll be ready.

“I feel like if I get another shot I’ll do a lot better,” Elmore said.

With the Texans down a linebacker for the season, Elmore half-jokingly texted Reed about the possibility of joining Houston and his old teammate. The Texans adding Elmore is unlikely, but it would only be fitting if his opportunity came with his former Arizona defensive line tag-team partner.

“That would be great,” Reed said with a laugh.

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